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By No owner — last modified Aug 06, 2015 05:28 PM

 Trinidad & Tobago - Formalities


Yachts entering Trinidad territorial waters should call coastguard control on Channel 16 to advise of the yacht's arrival and to give an ETA.

Fly the Q flag.

It is advisable to time your arrival within normal office hours (0800-1200, 1300-1600 Mon-Fri, except public holidays). Overtime is no longer charged if clearance is carried out within these office hours even though the yacht's arrival may have been outside of this time. However, that said, the authorties pay attention to yachts coming and leaving and may well insist you clear in immediately on arrival, out of normal office hours or not.

Yachts are required to check in/out when moving between Trinidad and Tobago.

Arriving yachts should clear at either Chaguaramas in Trinidad or Scarborough or Charlotteville in Tobago. Port of Spain is a commercial port, and yachts may only stop there in real emergencies. Chaguaramas has an office dedicated to clearance formalities.

Once a vessel has entered territorial waters, the captain and the crew must check in with 24 hours of arrival.

Yachts sailing from Trinidad to Tobago must get the "Arrival Form" endorsed by the Customs officer in Chaguaramas. This form must be presented to Customs on arrival at Scarborough or Charlotteville. The same procedure is necessary for the reverse voyage. Be sure to make sure your paperwork is all in order before moving between the two islands as penalities for incorrect paperwork can be harsh (see this comment).

With permission from the Customs officer in Trinidad you can anchor elsewhere in Tobago, such as Store Bay, and go overland to Scarborough to complete the necessary formalities.

Once in Tobago, Customs will require a 'float plan' complete with the dates on which you will be at various destinations.

Outward clearance

Yachts must clear out of one of the two recommended ports. Yachts clear out with Customs, Immigration and Port Authority and must leave within 24 hours of obtaining clearance.

You may NOT drop anchor en route along the north coast of Trinidad but must proceed directly to Chaguaramas. This is a security reason and for your own safety.

If departing for Grenada, it is now possible to file a passage plan with the coastguard. See report here for further details.

Last updated May 2014.


Passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended stay (3 months for citizens of USA, EU and the British Commonwealth).

Ebola Outbreak: Entry restrictions may apply if you ordinarily live in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, or you have visited any of those countries in the previous 28 days.

Visas for visits of up to 90 days are not required by citizens of the United States, the Caricom countries (except Haiti), European Union and British Commonwealth with the exception of the following countries:-

Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Australia, Cameroon, India, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.

Australian crew on yachts are also not required to have a visa, however Australian tourists entering by plane or ferry do require visas.

Upon entry to the country, Immigration normally provides for an approved stay of 3 to 6 months. Visas may be extended for another three months if you have a reasonable reason (hurricane season, work on the boat etc.). One week prior to expiration an extension may be requested. You are likely to be asked to return on Tuesday of the following week, at which time an extension may be granted upon payment of the applicable fee.

Immigration (and Customs) will charge overtime outside of the normal working hours, which are 0800-1200, 1300-1600 Monday to Friday.

Crew departing Trinidad and Tobago by air must be signed off the vessel and signed on again when returning. The procedure requires a letter prepared by the marina or boatyard, which must be approved by the Immigration officer. This approval allows for proper paperwork at the airport (or other port of exit) and an exclusion of the airport tax if executed within 24 hours of departure. This letter must be in the hands of the crew prior to departure to enable embarkation without a return ticket. This same letter will be used as authorisation for re-entry into Trinidad to rejoin the vessel. When the crew returns to Trinidad and Tobago, the master must present the crew's passport to the Immigration officer at the Chaguaramas station within 24 hours to sign the crew back on the vessel.

There is a similar procedure for crew transfering to another boat.
Important note: A crew member may not sign on to a vessel that is staying longer than the one on which he arrived.

Immigration requires a Medical Certificate for persons who wish to remain in Trinidad & Tobago for periods exceeding one year. Declaration by applicant must be made in the presence of the Examining Medical Officer.

Last updated December 2014.

Immigration Office (Tobago)
Milford Road , Tobago
Immigration Office (Trinidad)
67 Frederick Street , Port of Spain


Firearms and ammunition must be declared on arrival and will be taken by the Customs boarding officer and placed in custody at the central police station.

Requests for their return prior to departure must be made to Customs at least 48 hours before clearance (preferably longer). Failure to do so may result in a delay to departure or departure without the firearms. To keep firearms in your possession during the stay, it is necessary to apply to the Commissioner of Police for a licence.

Fruit & Vegetables
Fruits, plants and plant material must be inspected by a plant quarantine officer before being landed. Honey from other islands may not be allowed.

Any alcohol on board should also be declared.

Temporary Importation of Yachts
Yachts are admitted duty-free for a reasonable period of time. Boats stored for longer terms must be left in the care of an approved yard. Some formalities must be completed at Customs, including a full inventory of items on board.

If a yacht is left unattended, it will be necessary to complete formalities for temporary importation. This is normally carried out through Chaguaramas Customs station.

Importing Yacht Parts
Parts for yachts in transit may be imported free of duty by following the recommended procedure by Customs. This may or may not be allowed, depending on the officer in charge at the time.

Only the captain of the vessel is allowed to carry duty free parts from the airport to Chaguaramas Customs station, where they will be transferred on board.

Parts arriving by courier will be delivered to Chaguaramas Customs station. Parcels arriving via the postal service will come to the Carenage Post Office, which will notify the yacht, after which the parcel will be cleared at the Ajax Street post office in Port of Spain.

It is very important that not only the parcel be marked Yacht in Transit, but ALL the paperwork be also so marked.

There is no longer any overtime charge for the Customs inspection of imported spare parts.

Last checked December 2014.


A yellow fever inoculation certificate is needed if coming from an infected area in South America.

Good medical care is available.


An actual cruising permit is not required; however, on arrival the captain must notify the authorities of the vessel's intended itinerary to cruise around the islands and permission must be obtained before sailing. Permission must be obtained from customs for any movement of the yacht, from one port or place to another, and to cruise the coast of either Trinidad or Tobago.


Visa and visa waiver fee is $TT400/person.(2009)

After completion of immigration formalities on arrival, the customs officer will collect $TT50 for the first 30 days of navigation dues. The balance of these dues will be collected when the boat clears out.

Harbour fees are TT$50 for every 30 days in Trinidad up to a maximum TT$500 in any one year.

Overtime is charged outside of working hours on weekdays and all day Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Customs charge overtime as follows: Examination of imported goods: TT$ 91.20. Arrival boarding: TT$ 136.79. Departure clearance: TT$117.26. Immigration overtime is TT$100.

Departure tax per person: TT$100.

Last updated May 2014.


The tanker ports at Point Fortin and Pointe-à-Pierre, and the cargo port of Point Lisas, are prohibited to yachts.

Trinidad requires cooking gas tanks to be tested every 5 years. If your tank does not meet this requirement you will be required to have it done.

It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.

Wider Caribbean's Marine Protected Areas (CaMPAM)
A useful database of MPAs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. All Marine Parks are MPAs, and therefore if wanting to find out about any marine parks in the islands you are visiting, details and location can be sourced via this website.


Trinidad does not have rabies except in the bat population, so pet regulations are strict.

Pets entering must be declared to Customs on entry. No animal is allowed ashore unless a permit is obtained from the Veterinary Services Division. It is essential to have an Importation License which must be applied for three months prior to travel. In addition necessary arrangements must be made 24 hours before arrival in order for the dog or cat to be inspected on arrival.

Dogs and cats entering from the US must undergo six months quarantine at the Quarantine Station but this time can be reduced to 30 days if (1) Dogs have appropriate microchip (2) Dogs or cats have been vaccinated against Rabies within six months but not more than a year before planned travel. (3) pets have a rabies blood test one month after vaccination For more information contact Veterinary Services Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resourses, St Clair Circle, St Clair - Tel: (868) 622 1221, Fax: (868) 622 4240, Email For copy of importation form and further information visit

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wingssail says:
Aug 06, 2015 04:16 PM

Our experience with officials in Scarborough was the opposite. We arrived in Store bay after an overnight from Trinidad and took a bus to Scarborough where we found out that we were not legally allowed to be there, having cleared from Trinidad for Granada, not Tobago. We explained that it was out mistake, a misunderstanding of the rules, and after several immigration and customs officials discussed it, they accepted our explanations and allowed us to clear it up by checking in and out, or something I am not sure what, with a few papers and a lot of passport stamping, but at no cost to us, and we were fine. They were understanding and patient with us. So I guess it just depends on who you talk to and what attitude everyone present is having that day. We loved Tobago and spent a couple of weeks there, stopping in many of the bays. Charlotteville was our favorite even though it rained a lot and I ruined my phone by jumping out of the dingy at the beach just as a wave came in. Oh Well. At least the rain allowed us to fill our tanks.

rschattman1 says:
Jan 31, 2015 03:38 PM

Upon arriving in Tobago from Trinidad, we checked in immediately in Scarborough. While our immigration papers were in order we were missing one paper for Customs. They immediately confiscated our papers and scheduled a hearing for two days forth. At that hearing we explained that it was an innocent and unintentional mistake to have not filled out one form and that it was our intention to comply. We went before a hearing officer and were fined $3000.00 TT. Upon reflection of all factors and the severe penalty for a minor error we were only able to account for the highly punitive measures as a reflection of prejudice. We are white, we are cruisers, and we are from the USA. Tobago is not a place one should go unless they are interested in patronising an island that doesn't value them. While Trinidad is completely different and many there were wonderful to us, Tobago is in our opinion a place to be avoided. If you do go, be forewarned that Customs is a nightmare and you will be at risk of their arbitrary and capricious behaviour.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 14, 2015 04:30 PM

There is a great resource for cruisers in Trinidad named Jesse James. Jesse has been assisting cruisers in Trinidad for many years, and is the SSCA Station Host in Trinidad as well.
Jesse may be contacted at jessejamesmembersonly[at]yahoo[dot]com

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 13, 2013 02:23 PM

Tobago, Buccoo Reef and Speyside: New buoys installed November 2013 to record climate change, coral bleaching, and changes in the reefs. Take care if navigating in these areas.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 25, 2013 01:48 PM

Update for Australian visitors to Tobago.
We arrived from Grenada yesterday and went to Immigration at the port in Scarborough. On presenting our Australian passports we were advised that Australians require visas (TTD$400 or USD$67). We questioned this as we had visited last year and didn't have to pay anything even though I had read up that Australians require a visa. However I had queried this with various Australian friends and no -one had come across this.
The Immigration Officer went to confirm this and came back with the information that CREW on yachts are NOT required to have a visa! But tourists entering by plane or ferry DO require visas!
Lynne Sands, SV Amarula

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